How to Surf- Bottom Turn
The most important manoeuvre in surfing is the bottom turn as it sets up and dictates a surfer’s every move on the wave. Learn to employ a strong and effective bottom turn and the latter part of all other turns on the wave will come much easier.
Essentially, a bottom turn is a drawn-out turn performed at the bottom, or trough of the wave. Allowing for a powerful transition onto the turning rail of the board whilst its’ still carrying all of its’ speed but is no longer sliding down the face of the wave.
1- The angle of the bottom turn should reflect what type of turn you intend to follow it with; a sharply angled bottom turn will send you on a more vertical trajectory towards the lip, whilst a drawn out turn is useful to get around sections already breaking ahead of you or o set up for a cut-back. You should always be thinking one step ahead of your next turn.
2- If travelling down the face of the wave, it is too easy to forget to first bottom turn before attempting a top turn or a cut back. First and foremost, point your nose towards the bottom/trough of the wave and allow your board to pick up speed as it drops own the face.
3- Keep your eyes forward, and look where you want to go. I find it useful to imagine a surfer paddling out in exactly where I don’t want him/her to be in front of me. This helps me to draw out my bottom turn longer than I would have normally and so sets up for a better top turn or cut back.
4- Once at the bottom of the wave, double-check and anticipate the nature of the breaking section in front of you before deciding on how sharp an angle you wish to exit your bottom turn.
5- Face the direction of where you want to go, bend your knees and place your weight on your back foot, committing your rear, inside rail, to adjust the angle of your turn, keeping your upper body low and loose.
6- You will then power off of the bottom of the wave, ready for your next manoeuvre.
Some people have more difficulty mastering their back-side (with their back to the wave) bottom turns rather than their forehand bottom turns as it feels less natural to be putting weight on your heels. A little tip towards a decent back-side bottom turn is to lift your back arm to help balance your body, and lower your front arm over the inside rail of your board as if acting as a pivot point.